Although Los Angeles’ WNBA team hasn’t displayed much dominance during the regular season in 2019, it’s hard to forget the pedigree the franchise has when considering the Sparks’ playoff odds. The reputation that players like Candace Parker have built is considerable.
The Sparks get the benefit of a first-round bye and at least one home game in the playoffs. Because of that and their playoff résumé, Los Angeles is a dark horse title contender.
How the playoff schedule affects the Sparks’ playoff odds
Los Angeles finished 22-12 this season, good for the league’s third seed. In the playoff format that has been in place since 2016, that entitles the Sparks to a couple of benefits.
Los Angeles won’t have to play in the first round. It will host the team that emerges from that round with the lessor record, as each round is re-seeded in the WNBA playoffs.
That will be either the Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx or Phoenix Mercury. Regardless of whom that opponent ends up being, the Sparks will play their second-round game at home.
Just as both first-round games are single-elimination, so will Los Angeles’ second-round contest be a do-or-die affair. That game is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. ET.
Because the Sparks are starting their postseason run at home and had the third-best regular-season record in the league this year, books have given them a decent chance to win a fourth WNBA title.
Building the case for the Sparks to win another title
Los Angeles won its season series against Seattle 3-1, swept the Lynx in three games but split the four-game series with Phoenix. The Sparks won 15 of 17 home games this season.
Los Angeles also won its season series against the Connecticut Sun. The Sun are the most likely opponent for the Sparks in the league semifinals, which are a best-of-five series.
For that reason, and the fact that Los Angeles retains talent like Parker from its last championship run, sportsbooks see a spark in the team’s playoff chances. There is information to support it not being a roaring flame, however.
Los Angeles lost its season series to the Washington Mystics (1-2) and went 7-10 on the road this season. Either Connecticut or Washington would have home-court advantage in a series with the Sparks.
With all that taken into account, Vegas oddsmakers and one sportsbook available elsewhere have set their odds. That presents some opportunities for Californians.
The Sparks’ championship odds across the country
While California sports betting remains illegal pending a potential constitutional amendment, Californians have options like Vegas or Oregon. Vegas is one of the places offering action on the WNBA playoffs.
The Sparks are 5/1 in Vegas to win the 2019 WNBA title. Only Connecticut and Washington have shorter odds, at 4/1 and 5/7, respectively.
On FanDuel, which could eventually be available if legal sports betting begins in California, Los Angeles is +650 to win a championship this year. FanDuel adds the Las Vegas Aces to the Mystics and Sun as teams to have shorter odds than the Sparks.
At 5/1, Los Angeles isn’t going to break Vegas if the team wins its fourth title. Sportsbooks respect the Sparks because of their performance this season and pedigree.